South America

135. Mexico, El Norte: Machaca con Huevos

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El Norte is sometimes referred to as “unknown Mexico” or “lost Mexico” because it is ignored by the vast majority of tourists. It’s a place of vaqueros, horses and small towns, mountains and sweeping deserts. But at the same time with some of the more modern cities in the country. Truly this is a very rich and virgin region. Visit Chihuahua or Coahuila and you will be far off the well worn gringo path. In many ways traveling to the north is like traveling through an old Western movie. Northern Mexico is one of the country’s most wealthy and modern regions.

Chihuahua, Mexico

Things you didn’t know about Mexico:

  • The colonization of the New World by the Spaniards introduced a lot of products to the rest of the world. Among those incredible contributions to global gastronomy are tomatoes, peanuts, avocados, corn, vanilla and hot peppers. Imagine many of our favorite dishes without these ingredients!
  • A Mexican inventor created the world’s first birth control. That’s right. Luis Ernesto Miramontes Cardenas, a 25 year old Mexican chemist came up with the chemical compound – that would become the first birth control pills – in 1951.
  • Mexican Spanish has more Arabic words than Spain’s Spanish. After the colonialization of Mexico by the Spaniards, Spanish in the Old Country underwent an evolution that involved ridding the language of Arabic influence, which the Spanish looked down upon at the time. But the Spanish spoken in Mexico retained this influence and can be seen today in their distinct use of worlds like alberca (pool), almohada (pillow) and Ojalá (which translates roughly to “I hope so” or “if god wills it”).

A bit of breakfast dish right in time for Easterbrunch! This is Machaca a tortilla with scrambled eggs and dried shredded beef! I love it! So damn good and easy to make

Ingredients

  • 2 Tablespoons of vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup of white onion finely chopped
  • 1 cup of dry beef meat finely shredded (could be substituted with shredded cooked beef)
  • 1 cup tomato finely chopped
  • 2 Serrano peppers chopped
  • 6 eggs lightly beaten
  • Salt to taste
  • Mayo
  • Chipotle sauce to taste
  • Creme fraice
  • Flour tortillas to serve

Instructions

  1. Heat the oil in a medium heat skillet, add the onion and sauté for about 4 minutes. Add the dry meat. It will absorb the oil in the skillet. Let it brown a little at medium heat stirring frequently. About 5 minutes for this step.
  2. Add more oil if need. Place the chopped tomatoes and Serrano pepper into the skillet. Stir and cook for another 5 minutes. Lower the heat.
  3. Now the tomatoes have released their juice.
  4. Pour the eggs into the skillet and stir until they are done and to your liking. Taste to see if they need salt. Do not let them dry.
  5. Well, some people like to eat this dish very saucy.
  6. Serve with with jalapenos, creme fraiche, flour tortillas and cilantro. Mix the mayo with the chipotle sauce.

134. Mexico, Mexico City: Mole Poblano with Smoked Chicken breast

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Mexico City, this megacity is home to nearly 21 million people , which makes it the most populous city in North America. The city was built atop the ruins of the once flourishing Aztec city of Tenochtitlan. Mexico city’s fascinating melting pot reveals itself through its architecture which includes pre-Columbian ruins alongside Mexican-style modernism, and the mix of cultures where tradition happily coexists with the modern culture.

Things you didn’t know about Mexico City:

  • Mexico’s capital is sinking every year. Mexico City was built atop a system of lake beds by its original tribes and expanded by the Aztecs when they took power of the Valley of Mexico. Unlike the Aztecs who created intricate systems of dikes and canals for flood control, the Spanish insisted on draining the lakebed once they got a taste of the work needed to maintain their watery existence. Most of the city’s water today is pumped from its aquifer below the surface and because of the soil’s sandy condition, the city and buildings continue to sink deeper into the muck.
  • North America’s first printing press was used in Mexico City. Mexican Juan Pablo used North America’s first printing press in 1539 and created 35 books with it from that year until the year of his death in 1560. His original workshop has been converted into a musuem and can still be visited in Mexico City’s Centro Historico. The press was brough by Spaniard Juan de Zumárraga in 1539, and originally printed materials for the colonial church and vice royalty.
  • The greener side: Despite its reputation for being super polluted, Mexico City is one of the greenest megacities in Latin America. Part of this distinction has to do with the fact that the Desierto de los Leones, a nearby natural reserve, is included within the city limits as well as the Parque de Chapultepec, which is almost double the size of Central Park.
  • Freshly released from jail by the Cuban Batista government and exiled in Mexico, Fidel and Raul Castro met Ernesto “Che” Guevara in a tiny apartment in Mexico City’s Tabacalera neighborhood for the first time. It was in this apartment and in the Cafe de la Habana in Colonia Sa Rafeal that the three planned their return to Cuba and a revolution that would turn out to be one of the most infamous in world history.

I have looking forward to making Mole for ages! The rich and tasty sauce combined with the smoked chicken! I know the chili’s seem a lot but it’s really not that spicy! I do however recommend lime juice as a topping since it cuts through richness of the sauce.

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133: Mexico, Yucatan: Pollos ala Naranja sanguina

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It has been a while I know, but I have been crazy crazy busy with work, and love and friends. But now I am stuck at home for a while there were no more excuses ofcourse and i have all the time in world.

I will split up Mexico in 4 parts, because it is simply impossible to simply choose 1 dish, and Mexican food is one of my favorites.

Soooo First up is the peninsula of Yucatan. The states of Yucatán, Campeche, and Quintana Roo are all found in the peninsula. Northern sections of neighbouring Belize and Guatemala (haven’t been to Mexico but I have been to Guatemala and Belize, best trip I ever made!) also form part of its expanse. Yucatan is a little different from other parts of Mexico, traditionally it’s a Mayan region, and the signs of that are still very visible, for example Chichén Itzá an incredibly well-preserved Mayan center that was once a major spiritual and economic hub, which is listed as one of the seven wonders of the world. Strangely the entire peninsula has no rivers that run above the ground, but there is a complex network of underground rivers which have formed beautiful caves and underwater sinkholes called cenotes. They are a popular place to swim, snorkle and dive.

Things you didn’t now about Yucatan:

  • The word “Yucatán” may be the result of a misunderstanding. The origins of the word Yucatán are the subject of debate. According to Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés, the name arose from a confusion. Cortés wrote that a Spanish explorer had asked a native what the area was called. Apparently he responded “Uma’anaatik ka t’ann,” which in Mayan means “I do not understand you.” Misunderstanding his response, the Spanish named it Yucatán.
  • The Yucatán is famed for its troubadour music, or trova, which has roots in Cuban and Colombian rhythms. “La Peregrina” (The Pilgrim) is one of the most popular trovassongs. Written by Ricardo Palmerín in 1923, the haunting song was commissioned by the Governor of Yucatán, Felipe Carrillo, for his fiancée, the American journalist Alma Reed. Tragically, the romance was ill-fated. Carrillo was shot dead by a rebel army while Reed was in San Francisco preparing for their wedding.
  • The Yucatán Peninsula is the site of the Chicxulub crater, which was created by an asteroid about 6 to 9 miles (10 to 15 kilometers) in diameter. The impact, which struck around 65 million years ago, caused worldwide climate problems and may have triggered the extinction of the dinosaurs.
  • Yucatan is the worlds top producer of the super spicy habanero pepper

The food of the Yucatán peninsula is distinct from the rest of the country and is based on Mayan food with influences from Cuba and other Caribbean islands, Europe, Asia and Middle Eastern cultures. In this recipe you can most certainly taste the Mediterranean influences.

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88. Honduras: Horchata de Arroz

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Honduras, for thousands of years the Mayans created a briljant civilization, while the Roman Empire crumbled into little pieces the Mayans were only just reaching their peak. They probably were the most sophisticated civilization of the America’s in many aspects.

Their remarkable advancement in science and astronomy was completely revolutionary for their time. In the meanwhile Europe was entering their Middle Ages. Copan a city in Honduras was one of the main centers of the Mayans.

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Things you didn’t know about Honduras:

  • “Come back tomorrow/next week/next month” doesn’t really mean that.
    It means, “I don’t know”, “I don’t feel like doing that today”, “I don’t know who to ask but it definitely isn’t me” or “I’m eating lunch right now
  • Christopher Columbus discovered Honduras. And when he set foot on ground his first words were: “Thank God we got out these great depths!” Honduras’ literal meaning is: Great Depths.
  • It’s completely normal to find blonde haired, blue eyed Hondurans on the bay islands. They are direct descendents of the British Pirates that came here over 500 years ago
  •  Hondurans are called Catrachos/Catrachas in Central America and within their own country. It is not a negative nickname.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of rice
  • 6 cups of water
  •  1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  1. Soak the rice overnight in 3 cups of the water. Add the rice, soaking water and cinnamon to a blender and puree until smooth, 2 or 3 minutes.
  2. Strain into a pitcher through a fine-mesh sieve or several layers of cheesecloth. There should be no grit or large particles in the liquid.
  3. Stir in the remaining 3 cups water, sugar and vanilla. Adjust sugar to taste and serve well chilled.

86. Guyana: Egg Curry

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The event that put Guyana on the map for a lot of people is the catastrophe that happend in 1978. Guyana was still a British colony back then. In the middle of jungle a cult called “Peoples Temple” settled and founded their own town “Jonestown” under the leadership of Jim Jones. A total of 909 Americans died in Jonestown, all but two from apparent cyanide poisoning, in an event termed “revolutionary suicide” by Jones and some members on an audio tape of the event and in prior discussions.

That is what put Guyana on the map nowadays there is much more to Guyana. Few places on the planet offer raw adventure as authentic as densely forested Guyana. Although the country has a troubled history of political instability and inter-ethnic tension, underneath the headlines of corruption and economic mismanagement is a joyful and motivated mix of people who are turning the country into the continent’s best-kept ecotourism destination secret. Georgetown, the country’s crumbling colonial capital, is distinctly Caribbean with a rocking nightlife, great places to eat and an edgy market.

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Things you didn’t know about Guyana:

  • The official name of Guyana is the “Co-operative Republic of Guyana.
  • The national motto of Guyana is “One People, One Nation, One Destiny
  • The Omai Gold Mine in Guyana is one of the largest open-pit gold mines in South America.
  •  Slavery in the state was banned in 1834. There was a great demand for plantation workers after slavery in Guyana, which led to the immigration of the East Indians into the nation

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83. Guatemala: Gallinas Borachas

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Guatemala, home of the ancient civilization of the Mayans. Nowadays known for it’s stunning rural beauty; breathtaking highlands and volcanos of which some are still active. The highlands are populated by indigenous people or indians they represent about 55% of the entire population.

The old Mayan temples are stunning to visit. But the beauty of a country doesn’t necessarily mean the country is rich, 1/8 people has to survive with less then 1 dollar a day! Guatemala has gone through a lot of trouble with coups. A lot of Guatemalans fled to Mexico for safety.

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Things you didn’t know about Guatemala:

  • A Guatemalan woman invented the Happy Meal. She came up with the idea in the mid-70s to make kid sized meals .She got the “Leading Women Entrepreneurs of the World” recognition in Paris, France. Now, ‘Happy Meal’ is part of McDonalds menu in over 35,000 restaurants and has sells about 100 million Happy Meals in one week.
  • The ancient Mayan city of Chichicastenango retains a 95 percent indigenous population
  • Comfortable travel including food, drink, accommodation and activities can be done for around $60 a day, while budget travelers can live for as little as $15.
  • The colorful handpainted busses all over the country take you anywhere you want to go for a very cheap price!

I made this recipe for a group of very good friends they absolutely loved it! The sauce is so nice and sweet. You would expect food from Central America to be spicy but it’s this dish just gives you a very rich sweet flavour.

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66. Falkland Islands: Smoked Mullet with Vegetable Rosti and Hollandaise Sauce

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So this week we are cooking a dish from the Falkland Islands! The Falkland Islands are an isolated archipelago and can be found somewhere South West of Argentina, but strangely they are part of the UK. Although the Argentinians still envy the British very much, since Argentinians consider the Falklands theirs. About 25 years ago they even had very bloody war about it that lasted 72 days.

The capital of the Falkland Islands is Stanley the most Southern capital in the world. Well capital might be a big word since only 3000 people live there. See why I used isolated now? 🙂 Things that are very normal to use like movie theaters and big departments stores can’t be found. In fact there are only 2 supermarkets in the entire archipelago!

falkland island pinguins

Things you didn’t know about the Falkland Islands:

  • London and the Falkland islands are at the same latitude. 52 degrees! Although London is of course on the Northern Hemisphere and the Falkland Islands on the Southern Hemisphere.
  • The international airport on the Falkland Islands is one of the only ones in the world located on a military base. It is called Mount Pleasant.
  • Almost everyone in the Falkland Islands owns a four wheel drive car since a lot of the roads on the Islands are unpaved.
  • They have a tradition, nobody knows where it comes from but the Falklanders seem to think it’s lucky to pin your shoe on a hill they call Boot Hill nowadays.
  • A lot of islands that have really strange names like some crazy drunk pirate named them for instance: there is an island called Whisky and next to it you can find island Rum.

With only 3000 inhabitants it’s hard to find a national dish! But after a long search I found something! This fish is amazing!

Smoked Mullet with Vegetable Rosti and Hollandaise Sauce

Ingredients: 

  • Two fresh mullets,
  • hot wok
  • 100g of grated potatoes & carrots & turnips
  • 1 teaspoon of minced garlic
  • vegetable oil for frying
  • one tablespoon of cornflour for seasoning. 

For the Hollandaise sauce:

  • 500g butter
  • 6 whole black peppercorns
  • 25 ml tarragon wine vinegar
  • 3 egg yolks 

Rosti

  • Mix all ingredients in a bowl and season with salt and pepper
  • Shape into cakes and using a metal ring , pan fry on both sides
  • Transfer to medium hot oven for 15 minutes

Mullet

  • Using a hot smoker or wok smoke the fillet of mullet for about ten minutes until fish is tender and moist

Hollandaise

  • Melt the butter gently
  • In a saucepan reduce vinegar by half with peppercorns
  • Using a food processor whisk egg yolks and incorporate the cooled reduced vinegar. Then incorporate the butter until sauce forms.

60. El Salvador: Pupusas

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El Salvador, a small Central-American country squeezed in between: Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and Costa Rica.  Glimpses of tropical paradise, national parks as you want them to be just astonishing untouched nature, colonial splendor astride pristine volcanic lakes, searing colors and a fierce creative vision sit quietly in the shadows of an indomitable local pride.That’s what El Salvador is all about.

A place not many people go but when they do they can’t shut up about it until they convinced you to go there aswell Here you’ll find a stunning coastline with world-class waves, a cultural capital famed for its nightlifex and small-town charm by the plaza-load. el salvador

Things you didn’t know about El Salvador:

  • The smallest country in Central America and the only one without a Caribbean coastline.
  • El Salvador is the only Central American country that has no visible population of African descent. This is in part due to laws established during colonial and modern times prohibiting entrance to the country of people of African descent. (So far for super racist laws!)
  • It is known as the “Land of the Volcanoes” because of the more than 20 volcanoes in the territory. Two of them are currently active.
  • Salvadorans are known as “guanacos.”
  • El Salvador went to war with Honduras after a soccer match; which was later known as the “Soccer War”.

Well pupasas they are a great tasty snack my only objection would be that they are quite heavy Schermafbeelding 2015-07-11 om 06.41.22

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58. Ecuador: Locro de Papas

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Aah Ecuador, the middle of the earth, literally! The equator runs straight through the capital city, Quito. What’s in a name right? (You see ecuador-equator :D) Although one of smaller countries in South America it has a lot to offer: Amazone rainforest, Andes mountains and just of the coast the Galapagos Islands where Charles Darwin developed his world changing Evolution Theory. Food wise Ecuadorians are known for eating guinee pigs, but don’t worry no guinee pigs in my house, it’s not even available here. Quito is divided in two parts old town (more then 600 years old) and new town (100 years old) is more modern and represents how people live now. Ecuador has Incan ruins too. While neighboring Peru, home of Machu Pichu, is best known for its Incan ruins, Ecuador also has a powerful Incan legacy. Most of the Incan sites were destroyed by the Spanish, but there are still Incan and pre-Incan ruins scattered across the country. The best-preserved Incan ruin is Ingapirca

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Things you didn’t know about Ecuador:

  • Spanish isn’t the only language Ecuadorians speak. Quechua is an indigenous language that is widely spoken. It was here long before Europeans arrived and has no relationship to Spanish. Don’t worry: most people speak Spanish as well.
  • The summit of Ecuador’s Chimborazo volcano is one of the highest points in the world. Due to the curvature of the Earth, it’s actually the point on the Earth’s surface furthest from the center of the planet.
  • Don’t bother hitting up the currency exchange! Ecuador’s official currency is the US dollar. The country traded in their old currency, the Sucre, for the dollar in the year 2000.
  • Perhaps more than any other South American nation, indigenous culture is alive and well in Ecuador. All South American nations include elements of both Spanish and indigenous cultures, but in Ecuador, many positions of importance are held by indigenous persons and indigenous culture is widely celebrated and preserved in dress, beliefs, language, and folklore.
  • While you might believe that the panama hat is from Panama, it is not. While these hats were sold in Panama, they were traditionally made in Ecuador, and the finest Panama hats still come from this country.

Locro de Papas also known as cheese and potato soup is, the thought of putting cheese and potato in one soup didn’t really appeal to me at first but that was before I tried this! you really need to ad stuff to it to make taste epic because on it’s own it can be a little bland.

Locro de papas

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48. Costa Rica: Galo Pinto with Tilapia

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Costa Rica, I have wanted to go to Costa Rica for ages! A breathtakingly beautiful country were the sun always shines and the jungle is still what little kids think it is, a place where wild life is still wild and alive. More empty beaches then you have ever time to see a place where there a more people in street then cars. A small country that almost beat another small country (The Netherlands) at soccer during the 2014 WorldCup in Brazil (sorry Costa Ricans that’s the only time when I hated you a tiny bit, I cried and almost tore my hair out) luckily The Netherlands won if not I would have written this piece about Costa Rica in a totally other way!

Costa Rica

Here are some fun facts about Costa Rica

  •  Pedestrians have very few rights in Costa Rica.  They joke that Ticos love to use their horns but hate to use their brakes!  It’s so bad that the Tico word for “speedbumps” is “Son muertos,” or, “The dead people.”
  •  You aren’t allowed to wear sunglasses or hats inside of the banks (due to so many robberies)
  • When a woman is pregnant they say she is “con luz,” or “with light.”
  • A saying I love is that when someone is your significant other, your other half, they are your “media naranja,” or the other half of your orange.
  • Prostitution is legal but possession of pornography is illegal.  They even have unions, membership cards, health benefits, and police protection.
  • You are not allowed to wear shorts in a government or public office in Costa Rica – they see it as disrespectful and may turn you away.

This rice dish was sooo surprising, so different from normal rice. I loved it! It tasted like summer 😀

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This recipe is for 6 people

Ingredients: 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice, 3 tablespoons olive oil, 4 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro, 4 teaspoons minced garlic, 1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, 1/4 teaspoon sugar, 6 tilapia fillets, 3/4 cup long-grain rice, 1 cup chopped onions, 2 oranges, peeled, seeded, coarsely chopped, 1 can diced tomatoes, undrained 1 can black or pinto beans, drained, rinsed, 1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves, 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, 1  teaspoon cayenne pepper, pinch of cinnamon

For the tilapia marinade, combine lime juice, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 2 tablespoons cilantro, 1 teaspoon garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and sugar in a shallow dish. Add tilapia and marinate 15 minutes, turning once.
To prepare the bean and rice mixture, cook the rice according to package directions and keep warm while the tilapia is marinating. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large, high-sided skillet or saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil on medium heat. Add remaining garlic and onions; sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes, stirring. Add 2 tablespoons cilantro, oranges, tomatoes, beans, oregano, 1 teaspoon salt, pepper, cayenne and cinnamon . Cook, uncovered, until hot, 7 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Transfer hot rice to a baking dish. Spoon the bean mixture on top of rice and gently blend. Slightly overlap tilapia fillets on top and scrape marinade over fillets. Bake until the flesh of the tilapia just begins to flake at the nudge of a fork, 16 to 20 minutes.